As part of the WARC Guide to segmentation, Joe McDonnell gives a top line overview of WGSN Tribes for 2022 in relation to three consumer profiles highlighted in its Future Consumer 2022 report.

Demographics are dead! That’s perhaps overly facetious, but the importance placed on marketing to specific demographics is changing. Increasingly savvy marketers are realising that the unifying factor of being 18 or 24 isn’t a correct reflection of the nuances, shopping habits and behaviours of either group. Put simply, marketers are starting to realise there’s more to consumers than just their age, the city they live in, and what items they’ve purchased in the last 12 months.

Examining macro drivers and the consequential societal impact allows us to distill distinctive consumer profiles that cut across generations and regions. Looking ahead into 2022, society is facing a mounting pile of challenges – aging populations, a climate crisis and a decline in the trust of public institutions – but on the flip side, technological improvements mean we’re heading for a 4-day work week and we’re adopting a holistic approach to wellbeing and work. Exploring these concepts provides a framework for what companies should do to win minds and market share among consumers.

The connected decade

According to Ericsson's 2019 Internet of Things forecast, there will be around 29bn connected devices globally in 2022, which is three times the human population. 5G will be largely deployed in developing countries and 75% of the world's population will have internet access.

The three Consumer Profiles we highlight in the Future Consumer 2022 report are finding ways to combat the macro feelings of fear and uncertainty, and looking to micro level radical optimism as an antidote.

A top line overview of WGSN Tribes for 2022

The Stabilisers

The Stabilisers are prioritising stability across all aspects of their lives as a reaction against desynchronisation and feelings of chronic uncertainty. This group is starting to opt out of over-optimisation and opt into a mindset of radical acceptance. The Stabilisers want simplified commerce, unified communications, and a reassuring relationship with brands.

This group (comprised mainly of Millennials and Gen X) is sick of the cult of productivity, they’ve had enough of oversharing on Instagram and have embraced the willingness to experience life and themselves are they are.

In an era of buzzwords, what makes radical acceptance different? In the cult of improvement, radical acceptance blends the paradox between self-improvement and self-acceptance. Developed by therapist Dr Marsha Linehan, radical acceptance has three main components:

  • Seeing reality
  • Accepting reality
  • Moving forward

The theory states that by radically accepting yourself, people are able to accept the present truth and strive for future change. It allows for focused improvement that is not dictated by current fads. Instead of trying to optimise every aspect of their lives, The Stabilisers can truly identify where they need to improve and allocate time and resources accordingly.

Reassurance is the new authenticity

The Stabilisers want to feel and know they are not alone. With self-optimisation at peak levels, brands should let Stabilisers know they matter instead of focusing on how they measure up to each other or influencers.


Reassurance is crucial for companies looking to gain affinity and trust – think ads that highlight everyday struggles such as finances and/or normalise harsh realities without judgment.

The Settlers

The Settlers are desperate to redefine the global 'hustle hard' work cycle. Typically comprising Millennials and Gen X, this group is looking to plant roots in their community but not settle in their careers, and they're ushering in a new era of localism. This means companies need to focus on second-tier cities for growth and engagement, aligning with hyper-local social commerce platforms to keep local money local.

Work-life balance to work-life boundaries

We’re experiencing a burn-out epidemic, as you can clearly see by riding the subway in any major city at 8am. It’s striking everyone, from entry level employees to executives. Research shows that people in the US, UK, China, Japan and Korea are all working longer hours for less pay than previous generations.

Unsurprisingly when you ask people to work harder for less money, a cultural backlash is appearing. In 2022, The Settlers will focus on work secularism – a clear separation between career and life. By focusing on establishing clearer work-life boundaries, The Settlers will usher in a new age of localism and a commitment to community life.

The Settlers aren’t going fully off the map, they’re using technology to strengthen community ties. Research by Facebook Australia found that 44% of Australians are members of neighbourhood groups and that more than 125,000 local shop events were organised via these groups during the 2018 holiday season.

Hyper-localised social commerce

Peer-to-peer social commerce will continue to rise with The Settlers, who look to support community members and drive the new circular economy.


Identify social commerce platforms for strategic partnerships and review limited product testing. Centre activations in leveraging the circular economy and make sure it has a positive community impact. Try and source local products and ensure they’ve got a strong narrative behind them.

The New Optimists

Weighed down by rising levels of fear and anxiety, The New Optimists have a vivacious appetite to embrace joy – a brave choice in the face of uncertainty. This celebration mentality will drive demand for group services (think group ordering for on-demand apps) and savings (larger discounts for group purchases).

By far the most dichotomous cohort, the New Optimists range from Gen Z to Boomers, but despite the broad demographic range they have many unifiers – the largest being an enthusiasm for enjoyment.

Globally, young people are flipping fear into joyful activism, focusing on impacting change through community volunteering and social emotional learning – even attending intimacy schools to learn how to reconnect with one another emotionally and physically. At the other end of the demographic spectrum, we’re going to see Boomers increasingly being ‘reborn’ as they prepare for the next chapter of their lives with vitality and creativity, and they are seeking new opportunities for personal growth and exploration. They are also embracing the power of social media, seen in the rise of 'granfluencers' who are engaging all age groups with humour and a can-do attitude (give @baddiewinkle a follow for a taste of that attitude).

The New Optimists strive for age equality – just because they're at different life stages doesn't mean they've stopped living – and smart companies are investing in an increasingly greying workforce. A 2018 Deloitte survey found that 16% of companies are now creating special roles for older workers and 20% are partnering with them to develop new career models.

For the New Optimists, who often feel like in-store shopping is a chore, there’s the opportunity to move VR shopping from all hype to all convenience. According to a 2018 Gartner survey, 100 million consumers will shop VR/AR by 2020. XR deployment for retail will only continue to grow as a conversational commerce channel and provides a quick platform to test products.


Walk before you run. As more consumers adapt to AR/VR shopping, smart brands are strategically partnering with AR/VR commerce companies to produce a seamless shopping ecosystem. Retailers risk losing this cohort if the shopping experience feels clunky – focus on experience, then on novelty.

Engaging with these groups is not a one size fits all approach. They have different priorities, platforms preferences and call-to-action for spend. By identifying your key consumer group, and exploring them, brands and marketers can develop.

For 2022, we’ve outlined six strategies that companies need to adopt to futureproof their business regardless of which tribe they’re appealing to:

  1. Simplicity matters –Consumers are increasingly overwhelmed. Create an in-store and online environment that declutters the shopping experience, and sales will follow.
  1. Unified communications –As unified commerce comes to the forefront, double down on psychographic segmentation to ensure communications are streamlined and consistent.
  1. Living in livestream –Conversational commerce is here to stay. Innovative companies are investing in creating branded live-stream shopping events to drive sales and social ROI.
  1. AR/VR transitions to convenience –Think less marketing hype and more in-home try on. Consumers are using AR to test products at their own leisure. Consider investing in a limited test product run.
  1. On-demand evolution –Retailers that provide a platform for group ordering and delivery will resonate, as will brands that focus on hyper-local last-mile deliveries.
  1. The power (and savings) of the pack –There is a renewed interest in group deals and bundle buys, both online and in-store. Focus on regional engagement and discount pricing to determine the best ROI.